September 2002 — It doesn’t rain often in Phoenix, Arizona, but the desert city received some downpours this past Saturday, as well as reminders in lightning and thunder of power greater than our own. The physical phenomena were fitting accompaniments to our seminar at Tatum Boulevard Church of Christ, in which we looked afresh at Scripture teaching concerning God’s presence with us, his guidance for us and his voice to us today — in Scripture and (always measured by Scripture) by his Spirit to our hearts.
The Bible often uses the wind as a symbol of God’s Spirit (“spirit” and “wind” are the same word in Hebrew and also in Greek), and rain as symbolic of divine blessings. We see that, for example, in Joel 2:23 which speaks of the “early rain” and the “latter rain,” metaphors taken from the agricultural cycles of ancient Israel. Joel’s prophecy continues in verses 28-32, with God’s promise of a coming day of salvation in which he will “pour out” his Spirit on all his people — young and old, men and women — to whom he will communicate as he sees fit through visions, dreams and prophecies. These verses become the text in Acts chapter 2 for the first Christian “sermon,” which accompanied the descent of the Holy Spirit on the infant church.
We were blessed at the seminar to have various elders, preachers and serious Bible students from about six Phoenix-area Churches of Christ as well as visitors from an Independent Christian church, a Methodist church and a nondenominational church. Longtime friends Rick and Betty Smith drove from Las Vegas, Nevada, about a six-hour trip each way. God seemed to bless us with power in delivery and with open and eager hearts to hear.
For those who would appreciate a fresh, thorough, biblical study of “ordinary Christian prophecy” (as distinguished from canonical, authoritative apostolic teaching and writing) I heartily recommend The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, by Wayne Grudem (Crossway Books, 2000), as well as Jack Deere’s slightly older book, Surprised by the Voice of God (Zondervan, 1996). The holy “wind” still blows and the divine “rain” still falls!